Sunday, July 7, 2019

Live Free! - Part Two.

In last week's post I shared a wee bit about a season in my life which began my pursuit of living in greater spiritual freedom. I choose those words more carefully this week, as I hope I didn't give the impression when I wrote that I'm living free that I never struggle. What I want to make clear is that when I shifted my focus, (with God's help!), from being a victim and blaming other people and outward circumstances for my unhappiness and instead focused on the things in my life that I could change, much greater freedom resulted. I had a request, via Facebook, for some more details about my pursuit of freedom mentioned in last week's post. So this week, I decided to share a part two.

The summer I turned fifty I went to the beach by myself overnight.  I knew there were some things twisted up inside my heart that could only be straightened out with a good long talk with God while I walked by the sea.  My heart was full of unforgiveness and bitterness towards others and about circumstances in my life that I was unhappy about.  I can take you to the exact spot on the beach where God spoke to my heart these words, "Quit focusing on others and circumstances that you can't change but instead change the things you can. Build your life!" With those words came the realization there were plenty of things that I had the power to change. 

I could choose to forgive. You can't live in freedom while holding onto unforgiveness, bitterness, anger and resentment. I was drowning in all of the above. For example, being a pastor's wife, I felt like I had to "play nice" no matter what was said or done to me. I know many people have been hurt by their church leadership and that's not ok. Likewise, many church leaders have been hurt by their people and that's not ok either. I was hurt, I could admit that. But, I didn't allow myself to admit that I was angry. That stuffed down anger festered into bitterness and depression. I had to let truth pierce my inward parts. I had to admit what was really going on deep down inside. I had to choose to forgive everyone that had hurt me. Then I had to let God clean up and heal my wounded spirit.

I could choose to take my hand's off of others. There's nothing more frustrating and futile than trying to fix someone else. I would pray for my family, loved ones, friends and church family, then get up off my knees and plot and plan on what I could say or do to help God fix them! God helped me to realize that if my hands were on the vessel God was trying to mold and shape, then I was actually preventing Him from doing His work in their lives. I had to make a daily habit of, in prayer, taking my hands off of others and releasing them to God.

I could choose to give thanks. Ten years ago I took the advice of Ann Voskamp and began to keep a daily gratitude journal. This was before her book on the topic of gratitude, One Thousand Gifts.  It was through her blog that she began to encourage others to keep a gratitude journal and then once a week we would post our gratitude list on our blogs and do a link-up on her blog. The simple act of daily writing at least three things to give God thanks for was life changing for me. It caused another major focus shift for me, from what was wrong in my life or what I was unhappy about, to all of the blessings of God that were being poured out on me everyday.

I could choose to try new things. There were whole parts of myself that I had let fall to the wayside or never even discovered in the the busy years of child raising and ministry. I had loved writing in high school but other than my private journals or writing letters I hadn't done much writing since. Ten years ago, I started a blog and began to share my writing online. I joined writing groups and went to some writing conferences. I tried new things. I picked up a camera and found that I loved the creative side of capturing beauty through my camera lens. I tried my hand at painting. Exploring my creative side has been so life giving!

I could choose to trust God with my dreams, desires and secret petitions of my heart. For too long I thought that my dreams and desires and secret petitions couldn't come to pass because of other people or circumstances that I viewed as a hindrance to God's best for me. I had to come to a point of realization that no one or nothing can keep me from God's will, purposes and plans for my life except myself. I was the hindrance in my own life by believing the lie that God was allowing other people or circumstances to prevent me from seeing my God given desires and dreams come to pass. Once I recognized that lie and truly trusted God with my hopes and dreams and desires, it was as it the flood gates opened. So many, many, many dreams and desires have come to pass for me since!

If you are, like I was, struggling with the direction your life is going, feeling stuck and trapped, feeling like a victim of circumstances or of things others have done to you,  I don't think it would be inappropriate to let you take the words God spoke to me for yourself-"Quit focusing on others and circumstances that you can't change but instead change the things you can. Build your life!"  I don't think that any of the changes I made or ways I began to build my life are unique to me or impossible for others to implement. I think that most of them are quite universal. You've got to start somewhere if you want to live in freedom. How can you start to "build your life" today?


  1. Elizabeth, each one of your suggestions is a wonderful place for each of us to start. May we make the right choice, daily, and live in freedom. Blessings!

  2. Thank you, Elizabeth. I enjoyed this very much.

    1. Thank YOU for the encouragement to write this part two!


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